DETROIT -- Waymo holds an ample supply of its self-driving systems. It has pipelines in place that will provide vehicles for its ride-hailing fleets. Now it has a place to put the two together.
The Google affiliate said Tuesday it has reached an agreement with American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. to lease a factory in Detroit, where it will integrate its self-driving systems onto vehicles provided by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jaguar.
Waymo will invest US$13.6 million to adapt an existing plant within the supplier's Holbrook Avenue campus and says it could eventually grow to 200,000 square feet.
The move will create Waymo's first full-fledged assembly plant for the purpose of retrofitting vehicles with self-driving systems and marks an expansion into the cradle of the traditional auto industry.
Back in January, when Waymo laid out its amitions to find a manufacturing facility in southeast Michigan, Waymo said as many as 400 engineers from Canada's Magna International Inc., a Waymo partner, could eventually be hired to perform the system integration. Waymo did not say Tuesday how many employees would be hired initially.
"We've found the perfect facility in Detroit," Waymo CEO John Krafcik said Monday. "We will partner with American Axle & Manufacturing to repurpose the existing facility, bringing a work force back to an area where jobs in the automotive industry were recently lost."
American Axle & Manufacturing last made front axles in the factory, ending production in 2012. It was most recently used as a sequencing center for a local parts supplier, according to a company spokeswoman. American Axle recently moved back into a portion of the building set up for administrative functions. Terms of the lease were not disclosed.